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posted: 9/9/2012 5:00 AM

Editorial: A good voter also brings objectivity to an election

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The Daily Herald Editorial Board

The major national party conventions have concluded, and that's a benchmark of sorts for the election campaigns to kick into high gear.

If you haven't heard from candidates yet through direct mail or robocalls or commercials or forums or a knock on the door, you will soon. This is the campaign season, and it's sometimes exhausting, sometimes energizing, sometimes enlightening, sometimes outrageous -- most of the time, all of the above.

At the outset of this stretch run, we want to talk about obligations -- ours and yours.

We believe firmly that we as a newspaper have a role in this process: to help provide you with the information needed to be a thoughtful voter.

And we're going to do that to the best of our ability. We will cover the presidential race, of course, but let's face it, you get your information on that campaign from a lot of places, form your impression as a voter in a lot of ways.

Newspaper coverage has value in that race, but frankly, it doesn't have nearly as much value in helping inform you about candidates in the race for the White House as it does in the countless races farther down on the ballot that don't get as much attention elsewhere.

So the emphasis of our coverage will be on those races: Congress, the state legislature, county offices, referendums.

We aim to cover them as well as we can, and the more competitive the race, the greater the obligation we have to cover it thoroughly and well. This is our aim.

Our commitment to the process and to you is to cover these races as fairly and as objectively as humanly possible.

Our reporters and editors are human, and so as a newspaper we are imperfect. But our intent is to report on these races without fear or favor, and we make every effort to do so.

To those who question the objectivity of the press, we say this: A good citizen is right to question everything in a democracy. That's one of the obligations of citizenship. And our objectivity is as fair game for that critical assessment as anything else. But we'd also ask you to question how your own biases may color your assessment.

We aim to get it right. We aim to be fair.

This is our obligation. As a citizen, you have one too.

Your obligation as a voter is to not take that right and privilege lightly. As a voter, you have a duty to be discerning, to question the contentions of candidates you tend to favor as well as those you tend to oppose. Don't fall into the trap of selectively looking for information to support your preconceptions. Strive to look fearlessly at it all.

You rightly ask us to approach this election with objectivity. You would be right to ask the same thing of yourself.

As a citizen, we all have an obligation to put in the time and to put in the work to become fully informed voters. It's an impossible task actually. But one worth working to accomplish.

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